One of my pet peeves is poor web site design and implementation. Here's one example of screwing it up multiple ways.
The Entertainment book offers 2-for-1 dining coupons and other types of discounts. I've purchased the book in past years, although I tried something else last year. Entertainment is now offering their 2008 books at a reduced price, so I decided to buy one. Most online purchases are easily done in a couple minutes. Not so here.
First problem: After adding the book to my cart, I went to checkout. They kindly offer to use my existing account information to simplify the process, so I entered my e-mail address and password and clicked the sign-in button. "Wrong username or password," the site responded. I clicked on the forgotten password link and they promptly e-mailed my password, which was exactly what I thought it was. Tried signing in again. No go. Went to the site's home page and tried using the login link there. Same results. Tried a couple different browsers. No dice.
I finally called customer service. After talking to Joel for a few minutes and waiting on hold while he did some research, I was informed that I couldn't access my account until after I bought the book without signing in.
Question 1: Why offer the sign-in option if I can't use it? My account still existed; otherwise, they would not have had a password to e-mail to me.
So now I've wasted close to 30 minutes on somebody else's incompetence. I'm slightly annoyed.
I returned to my anonymous cart and checked out as a new user. The purchase went fine, but as soon as I completed the transaction with my existing e-mail address, they knew exactly who I was and greeted me like an old friend. Gee, thanks.
Second problem: Now that I've purchased -- and registered, they say -- my shiny new book, would I like to print out some coupons I can use right away? Actually, I would. I found one for a good local restaurant and clicked the print button. Nothing happened except for the web page to say that it is printing. Tried it again. Same result. Tried several different browsers, including IE on Windows. Still no luck. Tried it from a different computer. No go.
I called customer service again and reached Charlie. We discussed the situation for several minutes before he, too, placed me on hold while he researched the problem. In the meantime, my wife is wondering how soon I'll be able to eat dinner, which is on the table and waiting for me. After several more minutes of waiting, Charlie returns to announce the verdict: I cannot print any coupons until I receive the book in the mail and register the card number that comes with it.
Question 2: Why did the web site say the book was registered immediately after I purchased it?
Question 3: Why did the site offer up multiple coupons I could print immediately after I purchased it if I really couldn't print them?
We'll see what happens when I get the book and register it (again?) on the site. In the meantime, the incompetence of those in charge of Entertainment's web site have wasted about an hour of my time and annoyed a repeat customer. I really doubt that I'll be buying another Entertainment book.
As they say, that's Entertainment!